Tens of thousands of people are demanding a full and thorough investigation into the death of Elijah Weatherspoon, an 18-year-old Black man who died last week under suspicious circumstances.
According to WCBD, Weatherspoon went missing on June 25 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where he was boating with a group of white friends. At around 11 p.m. local time, Mount Pleasant police responded to a report of young male who "entered into the water from boat" and never resurfaced. Local law enforcement and the United States Coast Guard launched a search shortly after, eventually discovering Weatherspoon's body on Sunday in Cooper River in Mount Pleasant.
Weatherspoon's family has since called for a transparent investigation into the young man's death, claiming there are a number of inconsistencies among eye-witness statements. An online petition points to the conflicting accounts given to police on the day of Weatherspoon's disappearance. The petition reads in part:
The events leading up to his death are unclear and are being treated as if he was just another black man who couldn't swim and drowned. When, in fact, he can swim. The people who were with him have stories that do not match up.
He fell off the boat and hit his head on a rock.
He fell off the boat and his friend tried to save him and couldn't.
He jumped off the boat himself and refused to get back in and drowned.
A separate petition states the Mount Pleasant Police Department has refused to investigate Weatherspoon's death, suggesting officers were indifferent to the tragedy because of the man's race.
"This is clearly more than a[n] accident. Nicky deserves justice, and so does his family," the petition read. "The family believes that because Nicky was Black and everyone else was white they are not trying to investigate. An officer questioned as to 'Why was Nicky on this side of town (Mount Pleasant)? Why wasn’t he on his side of town?' Regardless of what side of town he was on, a crime was committed and we seek equal justice."
The petitions, which were created on behalf of Weatherspoon's family, seek to keep the case open so that Weatherspoon's loved-ones may get their questions answered, and perhaps receive justice if foul play is determined. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petitions had collectively received more than 155,000 signatures.